Reflections on my Mimicking Fasting Diet this week…
What is a mimicking fasting diet? Why do it?
There are many benefits to fasting including: weight loss and improved blood sugar control, brain function, immune system strength, longevity, resilience against stress… What we often don’t realize is that eating and digestion take a great deal of energy and can cause an immense amount of oxidative stress, more so when the quality of our food is not so great.
While fasting usually implies not eating anything for a certain period of time, most of us might find that incredibly difficult. I was advised by my functional medicine doctor to do a 3-day water/tea fast to reset my blood sugar control and regain energy. (I don’t have diabetes. Like most people, however, I choose to lead a stressful life and this leads to massive blood sugar dysregulation and problems with energy and mood for me). In the meantime, one of my patients told me that she was doing a mimicking fasting diet for 5 days through a formal program. I do not mean to promote this particular program, rather simply comment on my experience and observations.
I purchased this program, and then arrived a small box with some simple literature and eating schedule. Within 5 separate smaller boxes are the contents of the meals for the each of the five days. The first day’s rations total about 1150 calories and the following days about 800. The food is plant-based and primarily is comprised of soups, nut-based bars, olives, tea, and some supplements. All are intended to provide micronutrient nourishment while retaining the benefits of fasting.
Per the literature included with the program, it “exploits the ability of the body during periods of low-calorie intake to a protected mode, removes damaged cells and tissues, and undergo self-repair. Evidence suggests that this process may result in increased longevity and improved health and wellness.”
Well, okay then.
Day One: I woke up low energy and low mood after weeks of pushing myself rather hard with work and home life. Nevertheless, I committed myself to the program, understanding that part of my lack of resilience had much to do with not paying much attention to how I was nourishing myself with food and self-care. I wanted a reset/a reboot for my body and mind.
The rations for Day One included: 3 nut bars, 2 algal oil capsules, 2 multivitamin capsules, tomato soup, minestrone soup, one package of 7 small olives, a package of kale crackers, and 2 bags of tea. I laid all of it on the kitchen counter, organized into breakfast, lunch, afternoon, and dinner meals.
1. The food was actually tasty!
2. I noticed how much I think about food.
3. I appreciated not having to make any decisions about food for the day. Similar to Mark Zuckerberg’s wearing the same outfit every day, I appreciated not having to spend any energy on decision-making with food. One of my issues with being busy and eating is that I will either not eat, eat something very easy like a protein bar, and then eat much more later in the day. Although I have been able in the past to prepare whole-food meals for myself to eat during my busy days, I’ve fallen out of the habit. I have found that my fatigue and overwhelm often preempt any desire or motivation to prepare anything unless it is for my children.
4. I appreciated the food I had to eat… Knowledge of my “rations” for the day allowed me to slow down to appreciate my small bowl of soup with olives and kale crackers, to savor every bite of my small nutbar. I still observed myself eating somewhat distractedly; however, the process of eating with this program MADE me notice more about how and what I was eating. Interesting. This is ideally how we are meant to eat, digest, and absorb our food. Mindfully. In a relaxed way.
5. Although I woke up with low energy and mood, by the end of the day, I had more energy and was actually feeling a bit upbeat. Multiple causes and conditions for everything AND I think taking a break from my relatively unbalanced eating habits helped a great deal. Just. In. One. Day.
I’m in the midst of Day Two. Less food. And I feel really good with great energy. Interesting, huh? I’ll report more tomorrow… Am I hungry? Not right at this moment. I feel an immense amount of gratitude